Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why go to Church? Part One

Just going to church doesn't make us a Christian. We're saved by grace through faith because of Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection. So, a believer will not lose his or her salvation if they don't go to church.

However scriptures teach us that the Christian life should be lived within the family of God and not in isolation. Ephesians 3: 4-15 Acts 2: 42-47. Hebrews 10: 24-25 and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another...  When you become a Christian, you were called into a relationship with God 1 Corinthians: 1-9, but, 1 John:1-3 makes it clear that we enter a fellowship that goes two ways: with God and with other Christians.

Acts 20:7 reveals the practice of the early church the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread and Paul preached to them. For Christians in every location regular Gathering was a part of life.

Unity of the body of Christ- now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it 1 Corinthians 12:27. It's not logical to say that you are just a part of the worldwide church yet refused to gather with the part of that church that exists in your area. Dr. John Bechtle says, "it would be like claiming you have a car, when the right fender is in Phoenix, the engine is in Tucson, and the wheels are in Paradise Valley! You don't have a car; you have the beginning of the inventory for a junkyard. It just won't function until all the pieces are put together." There are many irreplaceable pieces of a Christian that cannot exist when she/he lives in isolation from the church.

Accountability- God designed the church as a place where spiritual leaders could watch out for our welfare. 1 Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:17. A Christian who answers only to himself can easily rationalize sinful attitudes or actions; regular contact with other Christians can keep us Sharp.

Use of spiritual gifts- 1 Corinthians 12 makes it clear that God has given spiritual gifts to every Christian. Verse seven states that these abilities are not provided just to make us feel good they are abilities to minister that should be used for the common good. 1 Peter 4:10 commands us to use the spiritual gifts to help each other. We will discover a sense of accomplishment and contentedness when we begin to carry out our purpose in the body of Christ. We are the ones who miss out on all the blessings of God and the gifts of our "family members" if we choose not to be a part of Christ's body. We meet with other Christians so they can use their gifts to strengthen us. God's Gift of a minister is wasted if no one comes to hear them speak.

Mutual Ministry- God intends each of us to meet the needs of other believers, using our strengths to help and their areas of weakness. Dr. John Bechtle relates, that
"The New Testament is full of 'one another' commands. We are to comfort one another (1Thessalonians 4:18), build up one another (1Thessalonians 5:11), confess our sins to one another snd pray for one another (James 5:16) and many more. How can we obey these directives if we stay away from the Gathering of believers?"

Developing the character of Christ- Ephesians 4:2 be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. How else will we grow spiritually unless we interact with other believers? We learn humility, patience, and gentleness as we interact with one another in the body of Christ.

Spiritual Protection- 1 Peter 5: 1-4
Our leaders in the body of Christ keep watch over us for our own protection and blessing. There will be difficult moments as part of a church family but there are also blessings that we will never experience unless we become connected to the body of Christ.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Praying For Strangers

Do you ever find yourself praying for random people you see in a store? Today I saw this adorable little girl just laughing and giggling with her mom it gave me the biggest smile, so I said a prayer: God bless that little girl and her Momma.. 

I also saw a lady who was a dwarf with a very severe limp and I watched her as she struggled to push the cart full of her purchases and thought she's struggling with something that I take for granted so I said a prayer for her asking God to find blessings for her and more ways for her to find him in her life. 

I feel God smiling at me and I feel his warm embrace when I pray for a random stranger. I feel his Delight and the connectedness that we feel as members of the human race.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
1 Timothy 2:1

Herefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16

Friday, June 30, 2017

God's Hand In Nature

Did you think I deserted the blog? I am happy to announce that I have been pain free this past week! I am now a fan of dry needling, and am grateful to my orthopedic surgeon for diagnosing my back and thigh pain. I can now sit at the computer for short periods of time, so here I am.

The most beautiful things in life truly are free: a child's laughter, the blaze of color in a sunset, the love of family and friends. God has supplied us with so many amazing things!

 As I was walking this morning I concentrated on nature as I usually do on walks. However this time something was different, a bit sweeter. I haven't been able to walk for several weeks and I guess I missed it. I found myself so full of joy at being able to walk and play with the dogs. Joy at the beautiful blue sky. Blue is my favorite color and I often point out the specific shade of medium blue in portions of the sky to God, because that is my all time most favorite shade of blue. This morning, I saw a couple of blue birds too, which I don't see too often. I took in deep breaths of the clean country air, thoroughly enjoying the smell. I wondered at all the flowers my husband has planted in the yard and around the front pasture. I praised God for the lush green grass that we're able to enjoy, the birds singing, the dogs and the neighbor's horses playing the fields across the road. Nature is truly a marvelous blessing. No offense to city dwellers, but I'm so glad that I live in the country, for me, it is perfect. The wonderful clean taste of well water after our walk just added to my joy for all that God has created in nature. You know, he really is the consummate artist. I can not fathom how anyone can spend time on our planet, and think this was all created in any way other than by intelligent design. I see God's hand everywhere in nature.

 My prayer is for you to take some time this week to "smell the roses" and enjoy God's magnificent creation. When I came back inside from my walk, I looked for scripture relating to nature to share with you all.

 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Psalm 95: 4-5 

 Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge? Job 37: 14-16 

 The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number - living things both large and small. Psalm 104:24-25 

 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my chosen. Isaiah 43:20

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Answering Prayers

Answering prayers is something all Christians spend time pondering. It's something we need to understand and be able to explain to those who are struggling in some way. Luke 11:9 says, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." If you look carefully at this scripture, Jesus said seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. He did not say that God will give you everything you ask for exactly as you asked and when you want it. God loves us and he is not going to give us something that He knows is not going to be good for us. He also may have something better in mind. 

Charles Stanley offers an example of a woman praying for a husband and family. Perhaps God has found someone special for her, but he is 500 miles away. Time is needed to meet someone who is that distance away. Perhaps she or the young man need a little time to grow or change in some way so that the relationship will work out best. 

Prayer should be motivated by a desire to fellowship with the Lord and not simply because we want something from Him. As our relationship with god grows stronger through conversing with Him we can face hardship or difficulty. Prayer is our way having fellowship with God. When we are quiet and praying/talking to Him, he lays His thoughts on our hearts. 

We must learn to persevere in our prayers. God is working on us or the circumstances. The more we get to know Him, the fewer things we will ask for. The more tHe will give us. He just wants us to
fellowship with Him.  

In Ephesians chapter 6, Paul did not ask the church to pray that he be released from prison, but that he would continue to speak fearlessly for Christ in spite of his imprisonment.

I can NOT emphasize how much these to sermons impacted me. Dr. Stanley puts his biblical teaching into such a practical way. I really found great answers to the question, "why doesn't God seem to answer all prayers. He DOES and Dr. Stanley does a great job of illustrating the answer.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Christians Living in Persecution

Watchman Nee is a name I have seen in Christian literature for many years. After reading several of his quotes, I decided it was time I learned more about him. After all, everything I've read that was attributed to him, is amazingly accurate and insightful. I knew he was a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century. I learned that during his lifetime he published many books and established churches throughout China and held many conferences to train Bible students and church workers. Following the Communist Revolution, Nee was persecuted and imprisoned for his faith. He spent the last twenty years of his life in prison - until his death in 1972.

When I read of the "Religious Affairs Bureau," I was curious about the title of such a government agency in a Communist country, and did a bit of research on it. This agency was charged with keeping religion under state control. After the rise of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 Christians came under great persecution. There were intensive propaganda campaigns with threats of prison where Christians were influenced to accuse one another. In 1956, there was a nationwide effort to target church members. Some died in labor camps, and others faced long prison sentences. The Religious Affairs Bureau began twelve days of accusation meetings at a church Ne was sentenced to prison on several false claims, and his co-workers were arrested and forced to denounce Nee. Many mass accusation meetings were held across the country to condemn the "anti-revolutionary sect of Watchman Nee."

The lengths that Communist China underwent to quash Christianity is profoundly sad and frightening. It sure makes one appreciate living in the United States where we are allowed to practice freedom of religion doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Notes on Ephesians

"The church in Ephesus was composted of different ethnic groups. Some were former Jews who tended to e critical, stodgy, and legalistic. Others left pagan Artemis worship to join the church. Their former lives smacked of occult worship, sexual promiscuity, and superstition. These two groups looked at life from totally different perspectives. But if they could not find a way to love one another and work together, the church at Ephesus could not stand. Paul writes encouraging works to help them, knowing that unity only comes through God's enabling power."

"About three years before Paul wrote this letter, he was arrested in Jerusalem on the charge that he had taken an Ephesian Gentile named Trophimus into the restricted temple area."

"A literal stone wall divided the temple in Jerusalem. It marked where Gentiles could not go, under penalty of death. The Jewish converts in the Ephesian church had continued to exclude Gentile converts out of habit, but God would not stand for it."

"When Paul says Christ 'set aside' or 'abolished' the law, he doesn't mean that the Old Testament is no longer the Word of god or a moral guide. What is abolished is the law as a set of regulations that exclude Gentiles. Other parts of the Old Testament law have been fulfilled by Christ, including the sacrificial system, which is no longer needed since Christ is the sacrifice for sins, once and for all."

"If the plight was estrangement and distance, the solution is nearness and belonging."
Klyne Snodgrass

Ephesians Discovering our Identity and Purpose in Christ. by Sue Edwards

Saturday, March 18, 2017

One of the Best Sermons!

This is without a doubt one of the best sermons I've heard. It offers practical help in an area in which we all need guidance. Charles Stanley offers such practical help in his sermons. He tells us not just WHAT to do, but offers practical instruction on HOW to do it.

These are the notes I took while watching this video. Perhaps they will be of some help.

There is awesome power in forgiveness. It is God's solution for bitterness, resentment, and hostility. You and I need the freedom found only through sincerely and completely forgiving others.

Forgiveness is giving up resentment against someone and our right to get even no matter what has been done to us. It is the surrendering of my right to hurt you back.

Freedom from the enslavement of anger and all the feelings that go with it: hostility, bitterness and resentment.

You can't just say you forgive, you have to experience it. If you try to justify someone's wrong to you, you are not forgiving them.

Matthew 6:12-15

Living in the willful sin is a condition in which God will not answer our prayer. If he did, he would be condoning sin. which is out of his character. Perhaps one reason people are not blessed is because of unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness is detrimental to our souls. It interferes with your fellowship with God. Not your relationship with him because once saved you are saved.

Matthew 18:21 Jesus instructs us to forgive 70 times 7. If you don't forgive others, the father won't forgive you.

There is no justifiable reason for not forgiving others.

Ephesians 4:30-32 1 John 1:9
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Be kind to one another, forgive.

Don't let anger become deep down hostility inside you. Forgiveness is the most unselfish act we can perform. God will enable us to forgive.

Unforgiveness is a chain around your heart.

To deal with anger:
  • acknowledge you have experienced God's forgiveness
  • confess your anger and hostility
  • lay down your anger and bitterness
  • ask God to forgive you

By an act of my will, I choose by the power of the Holy Spirit, to lay down this anger.

When you have held an attitude of resentment towards someone who hurt you, ask for their forgiveness by saying, "My attitude towards you has not been right."

If you have forgiven you will thank God for allowing this to happen Ask God to teach you about His grace. Remind yourself, God's grace has surrounded me all these years.

When you have forgiveness:
  1. you will not feel the same way the next time you see them
  2. your harsh feelings are replaced with compassion
  3. you can accept them the way they are
  4. you will consider why they did that